Super Sentai Series Review: Gosei Sentai Dairanger
Tenshin-DAAAA!!!!! The power of thunder! Wait, this is Gosei Sentai Dairanger. After a hiatus from guest writing in this blog for several months (and focusing on my blogs), I decided to write this Dairanger review.
Back as a child, I remembered how I saw Dairanger toys. I think I was 11-12 years old so I was near by teenager years. I always wondered what in the world was the white ranger doing with a group of heroes. I remembered some of them were bootleg toys and the others had the Bandai logo on them. Regardless, I always felt confused until I discovered more about Super Sentai on the Internet. That's when I discovered that Dairanger's footage was used during Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Season 2. That's also when I discovered that the white ranger was really a nine year old child. There's been a lot of stuff that caught me off-guard when I learned about Super Sentai.
The show may be a Japanese show but like some of Toei's list of properties, they take influences from several countries. This show is the first Chinese-based Super Sentai series primarily focusing on kung fu. Technically, it's the second martial arts series since Hikari Sentai Maskman was the first series to do so. Like Maskman, it follows the light vs. darkness concept but at a much deeper level. Truly it's one of the most innovative series to be ever made.
The plot goes all the way back to 8,000 years in the past in Southern China. A civilization known as Daos had three branches of humanity: Shura (normal humans), Dai (where the Dairangers descended from) and the Gorma. The Dai represents the use of positive energy and the Gorma the use of negative energy. It's pretty much the Yin/Yang concept when it came to the battle. The battle between the Dai and the Gorma lasted for 5,000 years. The mythical chi-beasts showed up to help the Dai and the Gorma learned how to become monsters themselves. After the war ended, both tribes seemed to disappear to did they? For some reason, the battle continued all the way from China to Japan in the present day. Master Kaku assembles five Japanese youths who had high levels of Chi to counter the Gorma's return in the present day.
Dairanger's heroes all specialize in different martial arts. Ryou/Ryuuranger specializes with the Dragon Fist fighting style. Daigo specializes with Chinese karate. Shouji specializes with Long Fist. Kazu specializes with Drunken Fist. Rin specializes with Eagle Fist. Rin is also Master Kaku's niece. Ryou and Rin apparently have their fighting styles more connected with the Chi Beasts they're assigned to compared to the other Dairangers.
Some of the heroes are more given more focus than the others. Ryou himself is pretty much the star of the show as he rivals both Shadam and Demon Boxer Jin. Daigo has a love story with Kujaku which happens to be a tragedy version of "Ah! My Goddess". Shouji has his storyline with the Three Stooges. The later hero Kou had a recurring story of his rivalry with his estranged brother Akomaru. Speaking of Kou, I really wasn't all too surprised he was a child ranger. Did anybody remember Justin Stewart from Power Rangers Turbo based on Gekisou Sentai Carranger? Unlike Justin, Kou is no mere gimmick and it's fun to watch him develop as the series progresses. I feel like Kazu wasn't so developed and Rin felt like eye candy at times. Except never ever attempt to harass Rin or you'll regret the day you did.
No, just don't expect a Japanese version of Lord Zedd ruling the Gorma. The Gorma appears as a bizarre organization running on negative energy. Long ago, the Gorma already caused trouble to the world. In the present day the three generals of the Gorma appears. Lt. Col. Shadam is a cruel and ambitious man who cares nothing about his family. Lt. Col. Gara is a cold and calculating villain who has a grudge with Kujaku. Major Zydos is the strongman idiot of the trio. My only slight problem was that I wish Shadam were played by Daisuke Tachi (Jetman's Radiguet) rather than Rintaro Nishi. After all, Shadam was similar to Radiguet that both villains tend to compete for who's the biggest bastard in the Super Sentai franchise. The cruel but senile Emperor Gorma XV shows up in the late teens together with Akomaru and General Tenpou.
The series also includes other villains or threats that the series has aside from the Gorma. One is Daijinryuu. Unlike the mechanical machine Serpentera, Daijinryuu is actually a peacekeeper for the Universe. Still, it he doesn't have to be such a douche and a**hole to destroy a good portion of Tokyo or to make people commit suicide. I wonder how many nightmares did this giant dragon that's way bigger than the mecha ever cause to children whenever he appeared. Neither the Gorma nor the Dairangers really stood a chance against this towering giant.
Demon Boxer Jin (played by Yutaka Hirose) shows up as somebody who rivals Ryou as a more or less honorable villain who later becomes an anti-hero. I enjoyed how Demon Boxer Jin is pretty much a vicious opponent yet he also has some sense of honor. Even if he was a villain I do feel sorry for how he lost his arm no thanks to his master. I guess he also represents the bloody and brutal cycle of revenge. He goes around trying to right one wrong with another wrong. Ryou may represent the opposite of Jin's quest for revenge.
The series managed to improve a lot of late 80s innovative concepts. Maskman was more on mixed martial arts while this series focused on Chinese martial arts. It's also the series where violence was pretty high and the only one with more blood than usual. Sure Maskman and Jetman had some blood and violence but this series took it to the max. There's a lot of super cool martial arts scenes both y the main cast and the stunt persons that most series don't have today.
I started to think less about Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (and the Power Rangers franchise in general) as well as Zyuranger after watching the series from start to end for the first time (via fansubs which are now removed). I felt that Zyuranger didn't have as much impact as Dairanger did. Maybe it's just extreme favoritism since I tend to bash Mei a lot in favor of either Rin or Kimberly for really shallow reasons. Still, I can't deny that the series has more plot, development and complex mysteries involved. The show may be considered as the masterpiece of the late Noboru Sugimura's era with Super Sentai. I even said that Justin's just a failed gimmick and Tommy's just so overrated after I saw how Kou was carried out. It's safe to say that I do have an extreme favoritism for the series. I like Gekiranger but I think Dairanger's still much better.
Personally, I'd recommend this series to anybody who's new to Super Sentai. The official English subbed DVD is now available from Shout! Factory. Go get it now!
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